Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Photo by: Helena Lopes
Real vs. virtual friends
“Friend” is one of the most frequently found words in virtual communication, Pope Francis told the Serrans. “Yet we know that superficial knowledge has little to do with that experience of encounter or closeness evoked by the word ‘friend.’”
When Jesus speaks of his “friends,” the pope noted, he points to a hard truth: “true friendship involves an encounter that draws me so near to the other person that I give something of my very self.”
Jesus says to his disciples: “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).
Jesus thus establishes “a new relationship” between God and man, freeing friendship from “sentimentalism,” Pope Francis said. He shows us that friendship involves a “responsibility that embraces our entire life: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn 15:13).”
The pope said we become friends only if “our encounter with another person is more than something outward or formal.” True friendship, he said, involves “sharing in the life of another person, an experience of compassion, a relationship that involves giving ourselves for others.”
Friends “stand at our side … they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words; they are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental,” he said. “They do not always indulge us but, precisely because they love us, they honestly tell us when they disagree. They are there to pick us up whenever we fall.”
To be a true friend to priests means knowing how to “accompany and sustain them in faith, in fidelity to prayer and apostolic commitment,” the pontiff told lay men and women of Serra International.
Lay people who offer priests true friendship, the pope said, “are like the home of Bethany, where Jesus entrusted his weariness to Martha and Mary, and, thanks to their care, was able to find rest and refreshment.”